tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: where to get good pot.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met
the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals

the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

Wines of Portugal

Cheese School of San Francisco

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

MARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Brrrr, it was nippy last night. I was totally jonesing for a bowl of phờ from this week’s restaurant in the regular (a hazard of food writing—you imageoften get wicked cravings for whatever you’re writing about). Last week I had my own top picks for gettin’ heated, which included some spicy dishes at Amber India for dinner, a well-made Manhattan (ok, two) with Carpano Antica (purr) while sitting at the bar at the Washbag, joining a server at Poc Chuc in chomping on a habanero chile (ow ow ow), and hittin’ the dancefloor at Mezzanine Friday night until late.

Sadly all the fun came to a screeching halt this weekend when tech troubles came to roost at hopper HQ (crashed external hard drive woes, no access to my pictures, blah blah blah)—here’s hoping my new Mac wunderkind brings Dead Fred back to life. And soon. Sigh.

Am looking forward to the chef Gemma dinner tonight at Ottimista, and getting out of town on Thursday and heading up to Sonoma for a couple days where I can get some writing done, and think about things besides crashed hard drives, and urban annoyances like the lack of parking in my neighborhood during a nightmarish amount of street work (uh, no, I am not keen on having to move my car at 7am, are you kidding?). Of course I am returning Saturday night for Whiskies of the World, a smooth and easy transition.

Cheers to that.

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Wines of PortugalMARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Congrats to the official ~JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARD~ local restaurant nominees, including Boulevard for Outstanding Restaurant; Nate Appleman (A16, SPQR) for Rising Star Chef; and the Best Chefs in America/Pacific candidates: Jeremy Fox (Ubuntu, Napa), Douglas Keane (Cyrus, Healdsburg), Loretta Keller (Coco500), David Kinch (Manresa, Los Gatos),and Daniel Patterson (Coi). Yank Sing was given the nod for an “America’s Classics” award. The awards ceremony and gala reception will take place on Monday May 4th. You can read up on all the award candidates here.

Now open in Hayes Valley is ~CAFÉ ALTANO~, the place I mentioned that was taking over the former Modern Tea space. On the menu: simple and straightforward Mediterranean-inspired fare (pasta, pizza, panini, and more). Lunch and dinner. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-252-1200.

UrbanDaddy noted the opening of ~MORAK LOUNGE~, a new hookah bar and lounge next to the Pork Store in the Mission. According to the post, there’s a heated patio, communal leather sofas, and “traditional Middle Eastern snacks like hummus, baba ghanoush and beef skewers,” plus a variety of “hand-mixed flavors” for the hookah. Eater also highlighted that for now the lounge opens at 8pm on the weekends only. 3126 16th St. at Valencia, 415-626-5523.

~E&O TRADING COMPANY’S~ new executive chef, Arnold Eric Wong (former chef-owner of Eos Restaurant & Wine Bar in Cole Valley and Bacar in SOMA) will debut his brand-new menu of contemporary Asian-inspired fare next Tuesday March 31st at the San Francisco outpost. His new menu highlights local, organic, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. 314 Sutter St. at Grant, 415-693-0303.

Speaking of ~BACAR~, after a flurry of gossip last week about Bernie and Ruth Madoff’s ties to the restaurant, I got this note of clarification from some folks at the restaurant: “Multiple press affiliates announced … that the Madoffs were major investors of Bacar, and some went so far as to say that we had been subjected to seizure by the FBI. In actuality, Ruth Madoff, invested a 2.5 percent stake in Bacar in 1999. In January 2007 another investor, Jon Jackson, bought out Ruth Madoff shares. She has no other financial connection with the restaurant, or with Bacar Investments LLC, which operates Bacar. Bacar is cooperating with the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New [sic] to have the record officially cleared.”

In case you wanted to see more about ~MIDI~ (it opened on Friday), you can check out a video of it here. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-835-6400.

Moving into the 12 Galaxies space in the Mission will be the ~BLUE MACAW~, a restaurant, bar, and club with a focus on international music. I will have more details in a few weeks, but the opening is slated for April or May. 2565 Mission St. at 22nd St.

Also got more info about the ~PARKSIDE TAVERN~ project that’s moving into the former ~RICK'S ALOHA CAFÉ~. Larry Doyle, the chef at Johnny Foley's Irish House in Union Square is going to open a "food-driven" neighborhood tavern in the space. There was an issue that was holding up ABC approval, but it’s been resolved and the tavern is moving forward. Doyle also mentioned there are plans for a farmers’ market in the Sunset, so that’s good news. That’s all for now, stand by for more details soon. 1940 Taraval St. at 29th Ave.

In the Inner Sunset, a tablehopper reader noted that ~SUKHOTHAI~ on 9th and Irving closed and is becoming “Saigon Noodle House,” while a post on Yelp said it’s going to be called “Thai Noodle Cafe.” Time will tell. 1319 9th Ave. at Irving.

Another closure: the North Beach location of ~LA PARRILLA GRILL~ has shuttered. 279 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Mark my words, ~2009 IS GOING TO BE THE YEAR OF THE HOT DOG~. We have Absinthe coming out of the gates with their house-made wonder (scroll down to “upward dog”), the gamey dogs at Broken Record, and how timely, a reader alerted me to Bratwurst Thursdays at Paragon, offering a Fat Tire Ale, house-made bratwurst sandwich, fries, sauerkraut, and beer mustard for $13. Starts at 5pm. 701 Second St. at Townsend, 415-537-9020.

(FYI, Paragon is also serving up some smoky BBQ on Wednesdays, including ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and tri-tip.)

Another BBQ-related sidebar: this Saturday at ~MISSION STREET FOOD~, you can preview some of the dishes chef Charlie Kleinman will be serving at Wexler’s, the upcoming upscale BBQ restaurant project in the old Les Amis space in FiDi.

Back on the dogs: construction is officially underway for a doghouse (read: small restaurant and retail location) for ~LET'S BE FRANK~, the purveyor of grass-fed beef hot dogs and family-farmed pork brats that you can find at the ballpark on game days. The (small) space will open in the former Hahn’s Hibachi, and Cass Calder Smith is the architect. Let's Be Frank on Steiner will be open daily, and will be introducing a new spicy "Hot Dog" and a "Not Dog" (a vegan variation), plus house-made toppings and sides, like grass-fed beef chili made with heirloom beans (from Rancho Gordo), local beers, and wines. There will also be retail packages of all their dogs, plus "party packs" for parties of 4 to 140. The target opening date is the beginning of April. 3318 Steiner St. at Chestnut.

Also in the ballpark: since the local restaurant chain Compadres went out of business in December, ~TRES AGAVES~ will be taking over their three food stands at AT&T Park this season. On the menu: a bacon-wrapped hot dog with chipotle mayo in a lobster roll bun; ballpark nachos with real cheese sauce, chopped carnitas, and Tequila-marinated jalapeños; and Jaliscan street-style tacos. Everything will be $5.50–$9.50. Pre-season vs. A’s starts Thursday April 2nd, and opening day is Tuesday April 7th.

Another thing on the rise: killer sandwiches! A tablehopper reader (and chef) who knows how much I love a quality sandwich wrote in to tell me about ~KITCHENETTE SF~ in Dogpatch, a lunchtime offshoot from caterer Living Room Events. You can swing by to pick up a sandwich from Monday through Friday, 11:30am–1:30pm. What’s on the menu? Check out the site each day for a full-tilt slobber fest. You know this sandwich had to have been amazing: house ‘corned’ Marin Sun Farm brisket sandwich with braised cabbage, apple farm apples, and caraway on an Acme roll with mustardy potato salad, $8. I am hoping their fried chicken version will be enough to sate my Bakesale Betty sandwich cravings. Ingredients are organic and top-notch. Cash only, and supplies are limited, so when they are gone, they are gone, yo. Just look for the garage door at 958 Illinois Street in the American Industrial Center.

Some FiDi workers know about ~THE CHILL CAFÉ~ for picking up frozen yogurt and desserts, but you might also want to know this spot has started serving Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwiches for lunch that highlight owner Trang Nguyen's family recipes. Flavors include ham with pate, and chicken or tofu with house-made lemongrass seasoning ($5.50 each). I’m gonna try to check it out this week. 125 Kearny St. at Post, 415-433-1233.

Drum roll please… It’s time for your weekly meal deal update:

Cheese School of San FranciscoI have never eaten at ~PIAZZA PELLEGRINI~, but with this kind of deal, I’d say it’s a good time to check it out. For the month of March, “The Frugalisto” menu for two includes a bottle of red or white house wine, antipasti to share, a choice of one of the chef’s three specialty entrées, and dessert for two. All for just $20 per person. Like, whoa. This special is offered daily from 11am–7pm through the end of March. 659 Columbus Ave. at Washington Square Park, 415-397-7355.

At ~MORTY'S DELICATESSEN~ on Tuesdays, you can get a Reuben and PBR for $7 (and woohoo, the Reuben here roxx). There’s also spaghetti and meatballs on Thursdays, fish fry Fridays, and some inexpensive wine specials to go with ’em. Now open until 8pm Mon–Thu, and until 6pm on Fridays. I also heard the owner Tim is starting to show local artists’ work on a monthly basis and is looking for some restaurant/artist folks who might be interested in hanging their work. 280 Golden Gate Ave. at Hyde, 415-567-3354.

All the fancier places are getting in on the meal deals too: ~CAMPTON PLACE~ just kicked off The Stimulus Menu, a three-course nightly dinner for $45. The special begins tonight. 340 Stockton St. at Sutter 415-781-5555.

Speaking of fine dining, and why we need it to exist, anyone who loves to dine out should check out this Food & Wine article, ~SHOULD FINE DINING DIE?~

Gotta love some free, and we gotta love our local bookstores. This Thursday March 26th, Mark Caro, the author of The Foie Gras Wars, will be giving a talk and book signing at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ from 6pm–7pm. And on Saturday March 28th, Nicolette Niman (Bill Niman's vegetarian wife) will be giving a talk and signing her book, Righteous Porkchop, from 3pm–4pm. I’d also recommend you get a ticket to this before it fills up: on Monday June 22nd, Michael Pollan will be giving a talk to a limited audience of 40 people. It’s a fundraiser for the Chez Panisse Foundation; tickets are $40 per person and include a signed copy of In Defense of Food. It should be a great evening in an intimate setting. 6pm–8pm. Check out the entire line-up of authors and times here. 3885A Cesar Chavez St. at Church, 415-282-4712.

Support your local bookstore so they don’t end up like the beloved ~COOK'S LIBRARY~ in Los Angeles, which is sadly closing its doors after 20 years in business. Apparently they're going to liquidate their stock and close up in six weeks, with the last day scheduled for April 30th. Sigh.

Another upcoming book-related event is a ~"NO-COOK" COOKING DEMO AND TALK WITH FOOD BLOGGER AMY SHERMAN~ at the Larkspur Library. She'll be talking about how she got started in food writing and what it was like to write a cookbook, and demonstrating four very easy appetizer recipes, including one from her latest book, New Flavors for Appetizers. A benefit for the library, $10 gets you tastes of each of the appetizers plus St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc or Bionade, an organic non-alcoholic beverage. The event is April 4th, 4:30pm–6:30pm at the Larkspur Library. Call the library at 415-927-5005 to reserve your spot. 400 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Also that day (Saturday April 4th), one of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini's favorite films, ~MR. BENE GOES TO ITALY~, will be screened at the Delancey Street Theater. Here’s more: “Benedito Batista da Silva, 60 years old, is considered an authority when it comes to manioc flour production in the Brazilian Pará State, deep within the Amazon. This documentary shows his trip from Bragança to Turin and back home. The encounter of different cultures, of small-scale farmers from all over the world and the enchantment of coming into contact with European culture blends with the profound emotional bond Mr. Bené forges with his Italian host family.” Slow Food Rio leaders Teresa Corção and Margarida Nogueira will be present for the screening. The evening begins at 6:30pm with a screening and panel discussion, followed by a reception from 8pm–9pm. Tapas will be available at the reception and wine pours at an additional charge. $15. Buy tickets here. Delancey Street Theater, 600 Embarcadero St.

Want to brush up on your cooking skills? There are a variety of ~COOK WITH JAMES~ classes coming up, like how to make egg pappardelle noodles on Tuesday March 31st, or how to make the perfect roast chicken and Caesar salad on Wednesday April 8th. $65/person and includes wine. Check out all the upcoming classes here, including details on how to enter to win a Breville iKon LCD blender this month.

imageDo you miss Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of Rubicon’s cookin’? Uh, yeah. Me too. You’ll be happy to learn they are part of an all-star line-up of chefs cooking at an upcoming event on Monday April 6th, ~CHEFS TO KNOW / DINE+SIGN~, hosted by The City Club of San Francisco and StarChefs.com. Taking part in preparing the five-course dinner is Noriyuki Sugie (formerly of Asiate, New York, and the mysterious upcoming Haight Street project I keep trying to get some info on from him, ahem); Richard Corbo (Ducca); and Mark Dommen (One Market). The evening will celebrate the launch of StarChefs.com’s Chefs to Know, a comprehensive guide to chefs from around the country and the world. The evening begins at 5:30pm with a selection of hors d’oeuvres provided by executive chef Michael Munoz of The City Club of San Francisco, followed by dinner at 6pm. $175 including dinner, wine, tax, and service charge, and a copy of the book signed by participating chefs. RSVP: 415-362-6697 or email michelle.kimmins [at] cityclubsf [dot] com. 155 Sansome St., 11th Floor.

All kinds of movie-and-pizza buffs mourned the closure of the ~PARKWAY~ in Oakland this past weekend—its last day of business was Sunday March 22nd. Here’s more from the website: “It was the first theater in California to offer food, beer and wine service in a lounge style movie theater. With a nudge or a push from the community, there was little programming the Parkway theater would not try in order to better be a community center and a safe haven for diverse ideas…We, at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, are deeply proud of the Parkway and will profoundly miss serving its community. Thank you for your patronage. This decision does not affect the Cerrito Speakeasy. Most of the Parkway's regular and special events will move over there.” And, scene. 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland.

This Friday March 27th, California olive oil producers will be sampling their new olive oils alongside author Fran Gage, who will be discussing and signing her new book, The New American Olive Oil–Profiles of Artisan Producers and 75 Recipes at the ~PASTA SHOP~ on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Participating olive oil producers include Bozzano, California Olive Ranch, DaVero, Lucero, Katz, Le Colline di Santa Cruz, and Robbins Family (there will also be storewide discounts). Free. RSVPs appreciated here. 5:30pm–7pm. 1786 Fourth St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-250-6004.

Coinciding with the book signing, ~CAFÉ ROUGE~ (just next door) will offer special menu items featuring California extra virgin olive oils from March 26th–29th. 1782 Fourth St. at Virginia, Berkeley, 510-525-1440.

Got a hot tip? You know I’d love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

 
the sponsor

Wines of Portugal

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Tickets: only $35 if purchased at least two days before the event date; $50 if purchased at the door. RSVP early—tickets cost less, and this event will sell out. RSVP here.

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St., San Francisco
Consumer Tasting: 5:30pm–8pm
RSVP here.

 
the socialite

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Pot de Phờ
3300 Geary Blvd.
Cross: Parker Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118

415-668-0826
website

Sun–Thu 11am–9:30pm
Fri–Sat 11am–10:30pm

Apps $5–$6.50
Entrées $9–$14
Desserts $6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese School of San Francisco

MARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Finding good ethnic food in the City is like an urban hunting ritual, often tempting food fiends into dark alleys, back rooms, and sketchy bodegas in pursuit of “the authentic.” I am grateful for the street stands and scrungy delis and random food windows I’ve been known to frequent, along with the usually low price point that will help us all get through this crap economy.

But the other side of the coin is many of these places are using cheap ingredients that I really don’t want to know the provenance of. It’s a hard thing to reconcile: I love street food and ethnic cheap eats, but the sub-par and most likely not very natural or sustainable or organic ingredients (especially the proteins) can pose a conundrum to someone trying to eat consciously. I don’t like having to throw my philosophy out the window about how animals should be raised or what I want to put into my body as soon as I walk up to a taco truck and say, “Dos tacos di lengua, por favor.” Because you can’t really say, “Si, con salsa picante. But please hold the antibiotics.”

I’m pleased to see places like Papalote and Out the Door and now Nopalito that are committed to using quality ingredients without sacrificing authenticity, because some places don’t “get it”—I don’t necessarily want “healthy” street food, just well-made street food that still rings in at a decent price.

~POT DE PHỜ~, the Vietnamese restaurant that opened about a year ago in the former Straits Café and Spanish Fly Wine & Tapas Bar location in the Inner Richmond is another place trying to balance the quality and authenticity equation.

I was curious and tried Pot de Phờ about a month after it opened back in the beginning of 2008, but wasn’t that enchanted with it, so I didn’t write it up on tablehopper. I was recently invited to try it, and figured what the heck, I might as well go check it out again. I found things had greatly improved, and am already looking forward to returning.

Executive chef Khai Duong is also behind Ana Mandara—this is his casual offshoot. The colonial-meets-CB2 décor is a far cry from the usual florescent lights and old fading beers posters of most phờ spots. Here you'll find walls painted with a bamboo pattern, birdcages hanging from the ceiling, dark wood tables, bright green walls, leather chairs, and a glass case in the back with a display of some ingredients that go into making phờ (no, you won’t find any small stuffed dogs, har). I was almost happy to see some random holiday lights in the back—keepin’ it real in March, yo. There’s also a vintage phờ cart in the back made of teak—we need some of these roaming the City.

So, first things first: do you know how to say phờ? Just in case you don’t, it’s pronounced fuh. See, now you are so pro because you don't call it pho. And here’s a little more background for you: Pot de Phờ’s website says the French colonists of the 1880s are responsible for the existence of phờ in Vietnam, inspired by the classic French boiled dish of “pot au feu,” hence the restaurant’s clever name.

The beef phờ version here features a broth made with all-natural Masami Farms Wagyu/American Kobe-style beef bones and alkalinized water (chef Khai found an ionizing and filtering machine in Japan); the broth simmers for at least ten hours, and is rich and deep with the flavors of herbs and spices, and a definite note of star anise. You can choose from rare steak to well-done steak, plus well-done shank. While I missed some of the more outré phờ options, like beef balls and tendon and tripe, the version with the tender rare beef (Phờ Bò Tái) was enough to keep me coming back just for that. They are all $8.75 for a medium bowl, or $10 for a large.

Yeah, a large bowl of combo beef phờ at most down-and-dirty phờ places around town is $5 or $6, and can be damned delicious, but do I want to bring a date there? Uh, no. And do I want to trace the lineage of the rare beef in my bowl there? Er, maybe not.

A few unique things about the phờ service here: it comes with lemon, not lime; bean spouts come already in the bowl and not alongside it; the handmade flat rice noodles are a bit thicker than what some places use around town; side accoutrements include onion that's lightly pickled, plus basil leaves and saw leaf. I also noted the broth had less globules of fat in it than I’m used to seeing (my body keeps reminding me this is a good thing, but the brain disagrees).

Squirt bottles of house-made hoisin and sriracha came with a little dish to put them in—I just learned you’re supposed to dip the meats and any vegetables from your phờ into the sauce, instead of putting the sauces in the broth. To be honest, I didn’t even want to add a single drop of anything to the already-complex broth here—it was such a pleasure to taste on its own.

On my first visit, I had the chicken phờ made with organic and free-range chicken, quite delicious. But the beef version is the one I really adored. Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to know there is a vegan variation with tofu and mushrooms, and no MSG, meow.

There’s much more than phờ here. The menu of starters has really expanded, with dishes like Bánh Khoai Môn ($5.50), minced duck with taro and water chestnuts that unexpectedly arrived like hot little breaded lollipops on sticks. Yeah, those went fast. The Chả Giò Tôm Thịt ($6.25), the classic dish of crispy Vietnamese spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli, pork, and shrimp were well executed, and not greasy. You wrap up the hot roll in the little leaves of fresh lettuce with some mint, and then dip it all into the accompanying nuoc cham, the traditional tangy-sweet dipping sauce with a bit of chili in it.

A standout to me was the green papaya salad (Gỏi Đu Đủ Tôm Thịt, $6.75)—it had sliced prawns that were plump and sweet. There was also notable heat to it, more than I've ever had in this kind of salad. Chef Khai said the heat is indicative of where he grew up (the middle of Vietnam). It really came together, popping with flavor, texture, and color.

I also tried the Bún Chả Ha Nội ($12.50), a bento box with skewers of BBQ pork and rice noodles that you wrap up in lettuce and dunk away into the nuoc cham. The pork was so tender, a far cry from the typically leathery morsels I have encountered elsewhere.

There are plenty of options for vegetarians here, and this is exactly the kind of spot where I’d bring someone who wanted to try Vietnamese food for the first time—the place is not only stylish, but also quite clean. Now that I got some of the menu basics out of the way, I’m already plotting my next culinary moves: shrimp paste on sugarcane (a favorite dish of mine), and the meatballs.

One drawback is the service—both times I found the staff to be really nice, but you can languish at the table waiting for your plates to be cleared, to order dessert, or get your check. If you have somewhere to be, something you want, or are ready to go, don’t depend on service to be intuitive.

I saw a bit of take-out business, so I made a mental note on that. I also think it’s ideal for a lunch meeting (the space is very tranquil), a first date (although I wouldn’t necessarily want to slurp noodles on a first date—I’d stick with easier items to eat and share), and I can imagine this would be a good kid-friendly spot, once you figured out if your kids liked the BBQ pork and crispy rolls.

While Turtle Tower on Larkin is one of my Vietnamese favorites for phờ (and bless the chef there who actually uses free-range chicken and makes those divine noodles), I’m happy to have the option of Pot de Phờ in rotation, which, how handy, is open past 7:30pm.

 
the sponsor

Cheese School of San Francisco

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the lush

Wines of PortugalMARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO ~ZINNIA~ is hosting a happy hour Tue–Sat from 5pm–6:30pm, with half-off on wines by the glass and cocktails. 500 Jackson St. at Montgomery, 415-956-7300.

How timely, we’re still in the “r” months, and ~DISTRICT~ is now offering $1 oysters every day during happy hour (4pm–6pm on the weekdays, and 5pm–7pm on Saturdays)! 216 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-896-2120.

~LAÏOLA~ has just hired Brooke Arthur (a talented bartender from Range) to consult on the bar menu and work behind the bar once a week. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

Cow Hollow folks, you should note that ~SPUNTINO~, the cheese shop offshoot from Ottimista, now has their retail wine and beer license. The majority of wines are priced at $20 or less, with some for only $10, ranging from Italian wines, to French, Spanish, and California wines, and even some from Argentina, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. 1957 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-931-6410.

A tablehopper reader wanted to point out that ~ADESSO~, the new project from the folks at Dopo, is hosting quite the happy hour, offering free food with drinks from 5pm–7pm Mon–Sat. As the reader noted, “Not just any food either, but a substantial survey of the house-made salumi solo and in small sandwich and toast form. They also repeat this in the evening at 10:30pm for an industry happy hour.” 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, 510-601-0305.

In case you’re curious about some of the treats at Adesso, some of their salumi will be at a ~DONKEY AND A GOAT’S~ open house this Saturday March 28th (along with some other edibles). Ten wines will be poured. The $20 admission includes a souvenir Riedel glass that you can keep, or BYOG (bring your own glass) and come in for $15, cash only at the door. 1pm–5pm. 2323 B 4th St. at Bancroft, Berkeley, 510-868-9174.

On Saturday April 4th, ~THE EAST BAY VINTNERS ALLIANCE~ is going to host the 2nd Annual Passport to the East Bay Wine Trail. Fourteen wineries, some of which are not normally open to the public, will be pouring at seven locations that are within ten miles or so of each other. The participating wineries include Adams Point, Andrew Lane, Aubin Cellars, Dashe Cellars, Eno Wines, Irish Monkey, JC Cellars, Periscope Cellars, Prospect 772, Rosenblum Cellars, Stage Left Cellars, Tayerle Wines, Two Mile, and Urbano Cellars. Each location will offer food to go along with the tasting, and some will provide entertainment. Participants will receive a passport booklet detailing all the wineries along with a souvenir glass. $30 (if you purchase your tickets online here). When you visit the website, you will choose your starting location, allowing you to map your path for the day. You can also buy tickets for $45 at the door at the seven host wineries. (Designated drivers pay only $10 to encourage responsible drinking.) 12pm–5pm.

One of my favorite mother-and-son duos, ~JOYCE AND EVAN GOLDSTEIN~, are hosting an event, Perfect Pairings, at Draeger’s Cooking School in San Mateo on Thursday April 16th. Explore three varietals of wine, learn which foods pair well with them, and enjoy tastings of food and wine partners. On the menu: dry riesling and baked rockfish with spicy peanut sauce; syrah and pork chile verde; and sparkling wine and ricotta cake with berries. Demo at 6:30pm, $65. 222 East Fourth Ave., San Mateo, 650-685-3704.

 
the socialite

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Easter
Sun. April 12th, 2009

Various locations

MARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Here’s a roundup of locations where you can feast on ~EASTER BRUNCH~ or take the little ones for an Easter egg hunt that will leave you saying, “Thank you Easter Bunny, bwok bwok!”


~EPIC ROASTHOUSE~ is serving a three-course prix-fixe menu from 10:30am–3:30pm, and the regular à la carte brunch menu, plus there’s an Easter egg hunt for the kids at 1pm. The menu includes a basket of hot cross buns; chilled asparagus with spring garlic egg salad on brioche and crispy fried spring onions, or a fava bean and radish salad; rotisserie-roasted leg of lamb with morel mushrooms and a wedge of rosemary-potato-onion pie, or sautéed garlic shrimp with basil-whipped potatoes, sweet peas, and their greens, or cornmeal flap jacks with bacon brittle and shirred duck egg; and strawberry rhubarb compote with David’s warm lemon scones and house-made mint ricotta for dessert. (Dag, now I’m hungry.)

~DOSA ON FILLMORE~ is serving unique Easter brunch items that include a strawberry-banana uttapam (pancake style version of a dosa, $12), and an egg poriyal dosa (dosa filled with a South Indian scramble of organic eggs, chiles, tomatoes, and onions, $10). Daytime beverages include a bloody Mary curry ($8.50) and elderflower mimosas ($9).

~BACAR~ is hosting an Easter Bonnet Brunch from 10am–3pm. On the menu: cheese biscuits & gravy; country bread French toast and fruit; eggs just the way you like them; smoked salmon rillette and toasted brioche; and wild mushroom and spinach quiche. The menu is viewable online.

~BAR BAMBINO~ is hosting a three-course prix-fixe brunch menu for $45 per person from 11am–3pm. The menu will include Italian holy week classics like Neapolitan Easter bread and minestra di Pasqua, in addition to lamb with peas, eggs with prosciutto, and other Easter favorites.

~THE RITZ-CARLTON, SAN FRANCISCO~ hosts a splashy Easter brunch buffet in The Terrace Restaurant with seafood, salads, hand-carved meats, a build-your-own omelet station, cheeses, seasonal fruits, selection of European-inspired desserts, and there’s a jazz trio. Served from 10am–4pm. Adults $98, children five to 12 years of age $49, plus tax and gratuity. There is also a children’s petting zoo, with long-eared bunnies, baby chicks, and ducklings. The complimentary Easter egg hunts starts at noon and 2pm. Reserved for guests dining or staying at the hotel.

At ~SILKS RESTAURANT~, a special Easter brunch will be offered from 9am–1pm. There will be an endless flow of mimosas, and dishes like cilantro-cured and grilled Atlantic salmon; scrambled eggs; plus Asian-inspired brunch dishes like carrot ginger soup, chilled soba noodle salad with marinated prawns, and dim sum. There will also be a dessert table with a wide array of sweet endings. $49 for adults and $25 for children.

North of the City, ~RICKEY'S RESTAURANT & BAR~ in Novato is offering an expanded Easter brunch. There will be seven stations,including breads and pastries; omelettes; vanilla pancakes and eggs Benedict; salads; a carving station; sides and desserts. There will also be cookie and card-decorating stations, as well as an outdoor Easter egg hunt. Brunch is from 11am–2:30pm; the Easter Bunny arrives at 1pm, with a 2pm egg hunt. $29.95 for adults, $27 for seniors (65+), $14.95 for children (5–12), and those under five are free.

~MARTINI HOUSE~ is serving an Easter three-course prix-fixe menu for $45. From 11:30am–7pm, along with the regular à la carte menu.

South of the City in Redwood City, ~SOFITEL SAN FRANCISCO BAY~ is hosting a brunch with nine buffet and live stations, along with a chocolate fountain, beverages, and a complimentary glass of Champagne per person. Seatings are available at 10am or 12:30pm. $55 for adults and $25 for children 5–12 years old, and children under five are free. little t

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Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Thu. April 23rd, 2009

Acme Chophouse
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA

1-877-26-TASTE
website

6pm–11pm

$75 general admission
$250 VIP dinner

order tickets

MARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO ~SHARE OUR STRENGTH’S TASTE OF THE NATION~, a culinary benefit that raises critical funds needed to end childhood hunger in San Francisco and across America, returns to San Francisco, . One hundred percent of ticket sales help ensure no child in America grows up hungry.

The evening will begin with a tasting reception hosted by chef Jamie Lauren (Absinthe) and more than 20 of the region's best restaurants and bartenders—all of whom have come together to donate their time, talent, and passion. The tasting event (only) is $75, and includes savory and sweet tastings from 20-plus restaurants in the Field Club Lounge, signature cocktails, beer, wine, and a raffle.

You can read the extensive lineup of restaurants and chefs for the tasting event here.

There will then be a multi-course dinner with Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière, ACME Chophouse, and Mijita); Thom Fox (ACME Chophouse); Chris Cosentino (Incanto and Boccalone); Elizabeth Falkner (Citizen Cake and Orson); Koren Grieveson (Avec, Chicago, IL); Gavin Kaysen (Cafe Boulud, New York, NY); and Michael Symon (Iron Chef USA, Lola, Lolita, Cleveland, OH).

A VIP gala dinner and tasting event ticket is $250, and includes early admission to the tasting event in the Field Club Lounge, an exclusive chefs' cocktail reception at ACME Chophouse, seated dinner with premium wine pairings, silent and live auctions, and a VIP gift bag.

 
the starlet

MARCH 24, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO John Cleese dined at One Market Restaurant, and was reportedly a “delightful guest, funny and gracious.” He ate a lighter version of the mushroom potpie. How, you wonder? He ate it without the pastry top.

A tablehoppin’ reader spotted Forest Whitaker sipping a cappuccino at Douce France cafe in Palo Alto. The reader says, “He was very friendly and told me he frequents Palo Alto to visit a friend and likes to stop in at Douce France for good espresso drinks.”

Last Monday night, Pisco Latin Lounge played host to British Pop legend Petula Clark, Sharon McKnight, Sally Kellerman (MASH’s original “Hot Lips” Houlihan), Freda Payne, Paula West, and several jazz and R&B pros, plus American Idol finalist David Hernandez. Here are a few pics.

And American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi was spotted at brunch at Elite Cafe. Not sure if anyone had to sing for their supper.

Of course all the food folks were wondering where was Anthony Bourdain (Tony to his friends) going to pop up this past week while filming here in SF. One tablehopper reader wrote in about the flurry of people watching and calling out to him at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturday. My friend Mary Ladd, AKA Jalapeño Girl, a friend of his, was on the town with him and her husband Oscar Villalon—they met with Tony at Tadich Grill on Friday afternoon, and on Sunday they hit up Benders and strolled the Mission. Eater pulled together some twitter sightings, you can read them all here.

 
the matchmaker

Help With Support Services for the Homeless: Event Donations Needed

SummerTini, the fifth annual benefit for CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service) seeks restaurants to host vendor tables or donate gift certificates. The event will be held on Friday June 19th, from 6pm–9pm at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Over 500 guests will enjoy infused, premium martinis and sample hors d’oeuvres from Bay Area restaurants like Ducca, Thirsty Bear, E&O Trading Co, LarkCreekSteak, Millennium, The Plant Café Organic, and more. Please visit summertini.org for more details.

For questions or inquiries, please contact Megan Peck at 415-487-3736 or email mpeck [at] ecs-sf [dot] org.

 

All content © 2009 Marcia Gagliardi. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.

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